Background: Force plates are frequently used for postural control assessments but they are expensive and not widely available in most clinical settings. Increasingly, clinicians are using this technology to assess patients, however, the psychometric properties of these less sophisticated force plates is frequently unknown. The purposes of the study were to examine the test-retest reliability of a force plate commonly used by clinicians and to explore the effect of using the mean value from multiple repetitions on reliability.
Methods: Thirty healthy volunteer adults were recruited. Postural control measures were obtained using the Midot Posture Scale Analyzer (MPSA). Data were collected in 2 sessions. Five successive repetitions each of 60 seconds duration were obtained from each participant in each session.
Results: The reliability coefficients obtained using single measures were low (ICC3,1 = 0.06 to 0.53). The average of two measures allowed for reliable measurements of COP mean velocity and average location of COP. The average of three and five measures was required to obtain acceptable reliability (ICC [greater than or equal to] 0.70) of relative weight bearing on legs and sway area, respectively. Higher measurement precision values were seen by averaging four or five repetitions for all variables.
Conclusion: Single measures did not provide reliable estimates of postural sway, and the averaging of multiple repetitions was necessary to achieve acceptable levels of measurement error. The number of repetitions required to achieve reliable data ranged from 2 to 5. Clinicians should be wary of using single measures derived from similar equipment when making decisions about patients.
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